A push for freedom

I would like to see the United States recommit itself to promoting Arab political reform.

QUESTION: What is the one thing you would most like to see happen by this time next year?

Last week, upon releasing a Congressionally mandated report which graphically detailed the brutality of America’s closest Arab allies, a weary-looking Condoleezza Rice declared that “we are recommitting ourselves” to supporting human rights and democracy.

At least she admits that it’s necessary to “recommit”. The United States has over the last year abandoned even the pretence of caring about democracy in the Arab world. Reeling from the electoral success of Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, bloodied from the Iraqi quagmire, and keen to confront Iran, the US has fallen back on all the old habits of coddling friendly dictators which Bush had once denounced.

Everyone knows it: the regimes which feel free to repress their opponents at will, and the political activists who complain about being abandoned. This administration isn’t going to deal effectively with Iraq or the Palestinian issue (so I won’t bother to hope), but I would like to see the United States indeed recommit itself to pushing for Arab political reform.

A principled American defence of political freedoms, human rights, and democracy wouldn’t be convenient given the unpopularity of its agenda, but would strengthen moderates against rising extremists.

Two tests will be arriving soon: Egypt’s planned referendum on widely criticised constitutional changes, and Jordan’s scheduled parliamentary elections. Pass them.

For other blogs in Cif’s first anniversary series click here.

All Marc Lynch articles



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